Childhood & Early Life
Paul Wight was born on February 8, 1972, in Aiken, the largest city and county seat of Aiken County, South Carolina.
Like his idol, André the Giant, Wight suffered from acromegaly, a disorder in which the pituitary gland produces excess growth hormone. At the age of 12, he was already 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) tall, weighed 220 lb (100 kg), and had chest hair. By the time he turned 19 and was playing for the Wichita State University basketball team, Wight was registered at 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m).
Wight was a very promising athlete as a youth. He was part of both basketball and American football teams of his high school, Wyman King Academy in Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina.
He played as a tight end on the football field, while on the basketball court, he was a standout center. However, he decided to stop playing football after a dispute with the coach. He continued to support the team as a member of the cheerleading squad in his sophomore year.
After graduating from high school, Wight briefly attended Northern Oklahoma Junior College in Tonkawa, Oklahoma, where he was part of the basketball team. He left Northern Oklahoma to enrol at the Wichita State University. Wight played in their basketball team as well.
Between 1992 and 1993, he studied at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he joined the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II Cougars basketball team as well as the Xi Beta Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
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Professional Wrestling Career
After Wight completed his education, he held several off-the-wall jobs, such as bouncing and bounty hunting. He was also answering phone calls for a karaoke company. During this period, he and Danny Bonaduce met in a live microphone amateur contest on his morning radio show. Through Bonaduce, Wight came to know Hulk Hogan.
After seeing Wight entertain the crowd at a promotional basketball game for WCW, Hogan realised that Wight had potential and later talked to Eric Bischoff about him. Wight initially wanted to join WWF but they rejected him as he had no training.
He then reached out to Larry Sharpe's Monster Factory and paid them $5,000 for training. However, Sharpe was suffering from gout at the time and Wight ended up training under Johnny Polo.
Wight made his in-ring debut on December 3, 1994, for World Wrestling Association in Clementon, New Jersey, in a loss against WWA Heavyweight Champion Frank Finnegan. His first match in WWA turned out to be his only match for the promotion as well. After this, in 1995, he signed a lucrative contract with WCW.
During the initial months of his tenure at WCW, he was billed as André the Giant’s son, but that was quickly scrapped. He debuted under the ring name The Giant and had his first match for the promotion at the 1995 Halloween Havoc, against WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hogan. He went on to win the match and as a result, the championship belt, and reigned for next few days before he was stripped of his title.
After feuding with nWo members for several weeks, he joined the stable in 1996 and was part of the stable until December. During this period, he won the battle royal at World War 3 and tried to challenge Hogan for a World Heavyweight title match. He was denied and thrown out of nWo. He had a memorable feud with Kevin Nash afterwards.
By 1999, Wight had become disillusioned with his prospect in WCW. He had realised that he was making significantly lesser money than the main wrestlers and let his contract with the promotion expire. He became a free agent on February 8, 1999, on his 27th birthday.
On February 9, 1999, Wight joined WWF after signing a ten-year contract with the promotion and later adopted the ring name ‘Big Show’. He started off as a member of Vince McMahon's stable, The Corporation, making his debut at the 1999 St. Valentine's Day Massacre: In Your House.
In the subsequent months, he feuded with The Rock, Kane, The Undertaker, and McMahon himself and was briefly in alliance with The Undertaker. At the 1999 Survivor Series, Big Show won the WWF Championship for the first time, defeating The Rock and Triple H.
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Big Show held the belt until January 3, 2000, when he lost it to Triple H. He continued to feud with Triple H and The Rock in the following few months and was one of the headliners of WrestleMania 2000. Afterwards, he started a comic gimmick, where he would emulate other professional wrestlers.
He was briefly part of a stable named ‘The Conspiracy’. He was then sent to WWF’s developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling so he would lose weight and improve his cardiovascular fitness.
He came back at the 2001 Royal Rumble and played a significant role in The Invasion storyline. At the 2002 Survivor Series, Big Show defeated Brock Lesnar to become the WWE Champion for the second time. He lost the belt a month later to Kurt Angle.
At the 2003 No Mercy, he won the United States Championship from Eddie Guerrero. He was defeated by Japanese sumo legend Akebono in a worked sumo match at WrestleMania 21.
In October 2005, he began working with Kane. They would initially form a tag team and win the World Tag Team Championship but later start a feud that would result in two no-contest matches.
As part of WWE’s new ECW brand, he won the ECW World Heavyweight Championship on July 4, 2006. However, his tenure with the brand was marred by several serious injuries. He had to take time off to heal himself. His contract with WWE subsequently expired.
After competing in one match for Memphis Wrestling, he returned to WWE and in 2011, reunited with Kane. At the 2011 TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, he won the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time. After losing it to Daniel Bryan that very day, he would reclaim it at the 2012 Hell in the Cell. Since then, he has been part of most major storylines in WWE, including The Authority plot.
After taking a leave from professional wrestling in September 2017, reportedly to have a surgery, he returned on April 4, 2018, to induct his long-time friend Mark Henry into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Wight made his film debut in the 1996 sports drama ‘Reggie's Prayer’, portraying a character named Mr. Portola. That year, he also got the chance to work with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, and Phil Hartman in the Christmas family action comedy-drama ‘Jingle All the Way’.
In 1998, he appeared in two films. The first movie was the action comedy ‘McCinsey's Island’, in which he co-starred with Hulk Hogan. He then portrayed Adam Sandler’s idol, Captain Insano, in the highly successful sports comedy ‘The Waterboy’. His next film was the 2006 family film ‘Little Hercules in 3-D’.
Wight was cast as Brick Hughes in the 2010 action comedy ‘MacGruber’, which was based on a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch, which itself was a parody of the 1985 show ‘MacGyver’.
In the lowbrow comedy ‘Knucklehead’, Wight played the main character, Walter Krunk. In the more recent years, he has acted opposite Dean Cain in ‘Vendetta’ (2015) and has appeared as himself in ‘Countdown’ (2016). He also voiced a character based on his professional wrestling personality in ‘The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania!’
Over the course of his career, Wight has made guest appearances on several TV shows, including ‘Shasta McNasty’ (1999), ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ (2004), and ‘Psych’ (2013).
In the early 1990s, Paul Wight underwent a surgery that successfully prevented further enlargement of his pituitary gland. In 2005, he decided not to rent cars or travel by planes anymore because of the inconvenience caused by his size. However, his profession requires him to spend most of his time on the road. So, he rented a bus and employed a bus driver.
Wight has been married twice. He married his first wife, Melissa Ann Piavis, on the Valentine’s Day in 1997, and has a daughter named Cierra with her. They separated in 2000 and the divorce was finalised two years later, on February 6, 2002. Only five days after that, he got married for the second time, to a woman named Bess Katramados. They have two children together.